Premodernism of the Future

Patrick Lee Miller in Quillette:

PremodernismModernism and Postmodernism are at an impasse. This was the conclusion of yesterday’s essay. Without its argument, though, you are unlikely to agree. Most people aware of this debate—whether in the hallways of academia, the online magazines, or the corridors of power—are partisans of one side or the other. For them, there is no impasse, only a conflict between the reasonable and the foolish, the duped and the woke. Most readers of this site favor modernism, and there are many reasons to do so. Yesterday’s essay catalogued the main ones, especially universal rights and empirical science. But it also presented some scientific reasoning about reason, showing the limits of the modernist approach, including science itself.

Yesterday’s essay began with Michael Aaron’s division of our culture wars into three camps: postmodernists, modernists, and traditionalists. After quickly knocking down a straw-man of traditionalism, Aaron reproduced the critiques of postmodern political excesses that are familiar to every reader of this site. Modernism was the winner by default. What he failed to consider, and in this failure he is not alone, are two points that need to be absorbed by champions of universal rights and empirical science. First, while postmodernism fails as a positive politics, it is still powerful as a critique of the blindspots of modernism. That was part of yesterday’s argument. And second, that there is more wisdom in “premodernism,” especially the philosophies of Greek antiquity, than is dreamt of in most accounts of our present crisis. This is the argument of today’s essay.

More here.